THE Government has been told it is “about damn time” it invested in carbon capture in Scotland as new plans were unveiled for green projects in the North East.

During a visit to Aberdeenshire on Monday, the Prime Minister announced that the Acorn carbon capture and storage project in St Fergus would be selected as one of the sites where carbon dioxide will be stored deep underground in a bid to combat emissions.

But the news was met with ire from the Scottish Government who said that while the announcement was "welcome, if long overdue" it lacked crucial detail about the next steps. 

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader in Westminster and MP for Aberdeen South, said the announcement was “very good news” and hailed the efforts of those involved to “see it delivered in the face of many false-starts over many years”.

The UK Government had snubbed the Acorn project in a previous round of funding announced in 2021 – in a move Flynn described at the time as a “complete betrayal”.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s latest announcement, Flynn tweeted: “A green light for the Acorn project is very good news.

“Important point – huge admiration for the individuals involved in the project and their efforts to see it delivered in the face of many false-starts over many years.

“Looking forward to seeing their vision turn to reality.”

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Karen Adam (above), the MSP for Banff and Buchan in which St Fergus is located, said it was “about damn time” the project got the go-ahead.  

She said: “I am glad that the Prime Minister has finally recognised the importance of the Acorn project at St Fergus. It’s about damn time.

“I have been calling on the UK Government to invest in carbon capture in the North East for years. I have no idea why the UK Government dragged their heels on this.

“In response to the announcement of hundreds of new oil and gas exploration licences, the fact of the matter is the North Sea basin is a very mature basin. The reality is that this will not provide long-term sustainable jobs at scale.

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“As for investment in the North East, the Scottish Government is investing £500 million in a Just Transition Fund to provide the infrastructure needed for a sustainable energy industry in the North East.

“The then-first minister [Nicola Sturgeon] challenged the UK Government to match this investment.

“So far, we’ve heard nothing. Will the UK Government now do the right thing and put their money where their mouth is?”

Energy Secretary Neil Gray said: "The Scottish Government has been urging the UK Government to commit carbon capture storage in Scotland for well over a decade, and today’s announcement represents welcome, if long overdue, recognition of the enormous potential of the Acorn project and the Scottish cluster.

“It is frankly unacceptable however that the UK Government has only committed to set out details for the next, critical steps in this process 'in due course'.

"In the interests of securing a just transition for our energy workforce while delivering on net zero targets not just in Scotland but the whole of the UK, I urge it to avoid further delay and work at pace with the Acorn project to secure the technology’s fastest possible deployment.”

The Acorn project is a joint venture involving energy firms Shell, North Sea Midstream Partners and Harbour Energy alongside the carbon capture and storage specialists Storegga.

It aims to reuse old oil and gas infrastructure to transport CO2 emissions to a storage facility 1.5 miles below the North Sea.

Dr Nick Cooper, CEO of Acorn lead developer Storegga, said: “Today’s news is a defining milestone for us, and the Scottish cluster.

"Acorn will be a major contributor towards meeting the UK and Scotland’s carbon reduction targets, able to serve emitters connected by pipeline and ship.”